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Harjit Sohotey-Khan works with social enterprises, artisan NGO’s and brands to sell ethically handcrafted fashion and homeware for style conscious women. Her mission is Style Made to Empower – empowering the consumer with high quality, artisanal fashion and artisans with a sustainable income.

Listen in to hear Harjit share:

  • What Jewelled Buddha is and what she sells (1:00)
  • How and why she quit her 9-to-5 job to travel through Asia (1:26)
  • Where she found the inspiration for her business (4:40)
  • How things change when you work for yourself (7:00)
  • The practical steps she took to set up her business (8:57)
  • How and why she started off selling in marketplaces (10:00)
  • The logistics around products and stock (11:48)
  • Selecting products and how she sources ethical, sustainable, wearable fashion (12:41)
  • The importance of having a criteria for products included in her range (18:16)
  • Getting to know the communities she works with (20:00)
  • The importance of appreciating our clothes and shopping sustainably (21:30)
  • How the covid-19 pandemic has affected her supply chain and the communities she works with (23:00)
  • Appearing in the Telegraph and how she’s getting so much press coverage – plus what you can do to get yourself in the press (25:54)
  • Her best PR tips (30:10)
  • The importance of joining Facebook groups and networking groups (31:30)
  • Her experience of working through my product creation course (34:10)
  • Why you just need to get started and why your journey will look different to everyone else’s (36:15)
  • What wearing the same clothes for a year taught her (40:50)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (42:57)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Jewelled Buddha website

Jewelled Buddha on Twitter

Jewelled Buddha on Facebook

Jewelled Buddha on Instagram

Harjit Sohotey-Khan on LinkedIn

LET’S CONNECT

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Transcript
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Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast,

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practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell

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your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg

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Today I'm talking to Harjit Sohotey-Khan from Jewelled Buddha. Harjit

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works with social enterprise as artists and NGOs and brands

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to sell ethically hand-crafted fashion and home wear for style

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conscious women. Her mission is style may to empower empowering

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the consumer with high quality artisinal fashion and artist ads

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for sustainable income. This is a fantastic conversation, and I

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really hope you find it both interesting and useful. Okay.

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Right. So, hi, thank you so much for being here.

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It was great to be here. Thank you.

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So can you tell us about your business and what

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you sell?

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Yeah, sure. So I own a company called Jewelled Buddha

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and basically I work with social enterprises, NGOs artisans and

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some brands as well to sell ethical fashion and homework

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style conscious women.

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Perfect. Thank you. And so how did you get started

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with all that bit? Well, first of all, when did

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you get started and, and what was the story around

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it?

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Oh gosh, it must've been about just over six years

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ago, seven actually. And I was working in the city.

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I had a city job and I was commuting in

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all the time and, you know, just living that nine

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to five life that everybody does in London. And it

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just got to a point, actually, what I thought to

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myself is this all life is, you know, is this

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all it's about? Because it just, I think when you're

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working in this, especially if you're working in a big

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city like London, then there's a lot of pressure and

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a lot of time taken out of your day to

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commute, to work. And I think for me, as I

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got older, it actually felt as if time was running

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out for me.

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And I wanted to really make the most of my

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life. I'd always wanted to travel as well. And even

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though I'd been on some amazing holidays for a fortnight,

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also, it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to discover

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more, to have more of a purpose in life and,

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you know, really live rather than just exist because I

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think just having that type of work where it's just

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feels robotic and mundane and you know, you go to

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work, you've got your to do lists and you've got

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your rehearse conversations you have in meetings and you sit

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there and you think I actually really don't like this

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job. And that don't think it was the fact that

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I should have left and got another job.

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And I would have been really happy. It was more

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than that. I felt sort of inside. I wanted more.

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So a couple of other things happened, well, my mom

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fell ill. She wasn't very well. And I was caring

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for it, same time. And I think everything just got

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to me and I thought to myself, you know, life

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is short. So I was 42 at the time. Or

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should I say 41 and a half? I'd say because

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I spent that quite a few months planning what I

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was going to do before I left. So I did

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that and my husband and I, we quit our jobs

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and we went traveling for a whole year across South

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Asia and Southeast Asia.

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And it was just, it, it was just amazing. It

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was a huge transformation and it affected us in such

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a positive way. I mean, even my husband, even now,

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you know, even though he's sort of got back into

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working and everything, he still feels how I feel. So

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we've got that wonder lost, which never leaves us. And

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we're always itching to go away, you know? So it's

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a lot of people who travel, they feel that way

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because it never leaves them. You know?

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So what, so you went away in travel for the

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year. So was it during your year away or when

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you came back that you decided to set up Jewelled

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Buddha?

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Yeah. So the first destination we went to was Nepal

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and it was while we were checking in the Himalayas,

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we came and we were descending. We came across this

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lovely village while we saw lots of women hand looming

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yak shackles, and I've always been into handmade stuff. Anyway,

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being Asian was sort of brought up to have our

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clothes handmade and I just love seeing them, you know,

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weaving beautiful, intricate shawls and clothing. And it was just

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so lovely. And I didn't know at that time, but

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that sort of subconsciously planted a seed in my mind.

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And it was very strange because as we were sort

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of traveling, we came across so many artists and communities

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and I found that I sort of went out of

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my way to see the more really. So while we

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were traveling, having a great time, you know, ticking off

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our bucket list, it just came across these communities. And

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I think sort of six months into it, I started

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thinking, Oh no, what am I going to do when

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I get back home? You know, am I going to

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go back to work again? And this thing inside me

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just kept saying, you know, Oh, maybe you could start

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a business. So, you know, the whole year went by

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and we came across these communities.

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I made a few contacts which started in India. That's

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where my first collection was launched. So when I came

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back, I had several months of trying to readjust to

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life, which was really difficult. And it was, it was

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the biggest sort of let down, you know, you come

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back after an amazing year and everything's the same people

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are the same, they're still in the same jobs, but

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you've changed. And that change can make you feel really

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alienated and really like, sort of left out as if

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you went to another planet. And then you came back

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again and, you know, I think I've bored people silly

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when I came back about my travels, you know, cause

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I had, I was just full of enthusiasm about life

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and I was transformed sort of mentally.

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And it was just, I think, you know, my friends,

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a lot of the time, they just had these glazed

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eyes basically after a while. And I thought, actually, I

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think I'm overdoing this now. You know? So I just

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started reconnecting with the contacts that I've made and that

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was it. I set up a company and Jewelled Buddha

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was born.

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That's an amazing story. Thank you. And when you was

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talking about feeling like, you know, a bit of an

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outsider, I think sometimes you can feel like that just

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even running your own business as well. When you first

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go from being an employee to being self-employed know if

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you have that feeling. Cause I, when you said that

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that's immediately what I fought off before, by building up

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a network of other people, he ran their own businesses.

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I felt like that with my friends and family, like

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a little bit apart because I was sort of out

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on my own as well. So yeah.

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Yeah. It's so true because especially, you know, if you're

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starting off, you set up an online business, so you're

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working from home straight away and all that communication that

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you have with your friends and all that engagement interaction

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that you have is just gone, you know, so you've

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left, you know, your job anyway. So a lot of

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the time, you know, those people you'll never see again

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and you're still with the same sort of friends that

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you've always had, but yes, you know, running a business

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from home, it's incredibly lonely actually. And if you don't

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have anyone else to sound off to then, you know,

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it's, it's a very difficult thing. And you know, when

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I started, I didn't have a clue about anything. I'd

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never run a business.

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I'd never been interested in, you know, sort of business

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studies before. You know, there was a time when I

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was sort of growing up in college and uni and

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stuff. Everyone was doing business studies, you know, but it

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never really interested me until I started. And it was

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huge learning curve, you know, to literally wear all those

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hats, you know, and I'm still doing it now. And

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I still find it incredibly challenging and although lockdown has

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happened, everybody else has had to go through that in

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a way it's almost the same thing where they're like,

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right, no office work anymore. You can't go in, you've

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got to work from home. And then everybody, you know,

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if they've got kids as well and big families, they

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have to interact with each other, you know?

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So yeah, I totally agree with what you're saying. You

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know, it is a very sort of challenging sort of

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thing to do when you're on your own.

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So what was some of the steps you took? So

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it was when you got home, you decided that you

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were going to set up Jewelled Buddha and were going

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to start selling products and these artists and communities, what

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were some of, sort of the practical things you had

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to do to make that happen?

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So I contacted the social enterprise in India that I

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found out about while I was traveling. I mean, that

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was relatively easy. They were because they'd met you before

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then, you know, it was just sort of reconnecting with

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them and, you know, they just said, you know, here's

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some of the collections that we have and I just

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had, you know, sent over some of the collections I've

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got now, obviously they came at a later stage, but

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it just sort of started I think with thinking, right,

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I've got to set up a website now I initially

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started without one and I used to go selling in

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marketplaces, excuse me.

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And so, you know, that was, face-to-face selling, you know,

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it's, it's more profitable really isn't it to do that

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because excuse me, because people can, you know, sort of

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see your product, but yeah, I mean, I, I thought

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sort of going quite quickly, but I think it was

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challenging to actually set up your own website as well.

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So, you know, finding platforms to put your products on

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and sort of, you know, steps like that are quite

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hard to do at the beginning, especially when, you know,

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you don't have any experience of what a website should

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look at. So I spent a lot of time researching

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everything. So researching on selling, marketing, everything to do with

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business, you know, just, you know, accounting, you name it.

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It was literally just going through each thing and thinking,

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right. You know, I make a sale. What do I

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need to do after that? And how am I going

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to promote it? Who am I going to tell, how

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am I going to get the word out there? So

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it was all these simple things that, you know, you

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need to know to start off with.

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And I guess there's also sort of the logistical side

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as well. So I'm assuming that at the beginning, at

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least, and possibly still now you sort of keeping all

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the stops, sending it out when you made the sale.

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Was, is that what you did first of all? And

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is that still what you're doing now? Or things work

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differently now?

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Yeah. It's still what I'm doing at the moment. I

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still try and keep my costs down. You know, I'd

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love to get to a stage where, you know, you

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can have, I wouldn't say a warehouse, that'd be a

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huge business if I had that, but you know, a

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place where you can, you know, store your stock and,

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you know, get it sent out. But yeah, I still,

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you know, work in that way now, so yeah.

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Yeah. That's yeah, that's really good. And, and talking about

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stock as well. So how does it work? Do you

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sort of order directly from India and the products get

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sent to you and then you keep them, then you

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send them out. Is that, is that how it tends

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to work?

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Yeah. Some of the brands I have is I've got

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one part of my, which is the necklaces and the

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salary scars. They're all part of an up cycle, sorry,

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range, which I have. So I've been to India and

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visited the artisans, which was a really amazing thing to

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do. So it's good to actually talk to these people

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who, who make your products and see what the impact

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is, you know, that you're making when you sell a

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product. So that was a really great thing to do.

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So you buy the products from them and then sort

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of sell them on. Yeah. And so how do you

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select the products that, that you're going to sell? Because

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you mentioned before that you've expanded your range a bit

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from when you started. So yeah. How do you know

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who you want to work with and how do you

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find, you know, these amazing products?

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Yeah, it's again, it's a lot of research being an

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ethical company. Well, the first thing I can say is

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I look at all the sort of fashion trends in

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the industry sort of trends that are in at the

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moment being an ethical business and not a trend based

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business. It's still important for me to know that. And

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also what I tend to do is I look at

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what I like, you know, I look at my whole

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range and I think, you know, how can I diversify

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the range without impacting on the existing range that I

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have? So what I'll do is I'll look for social

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enterprises or NGOs and I'll see what impact they're having,

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how they're helping our seasons.

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So a lot of my brand is all about women

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empowerment. So I tries to choose social enterprises that create

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products that empower women and also help communities thrive. Craft

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communities thrive because all my products or handling and handmade.

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So especially in India as well, the handloom industry is

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in sort of crisis at the moment. They always sort

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of in a way has been because, you know, everything

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sort of industrialized over there now. So, you know, that's

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putting pressure on handling weavers. They're not getting the jobs

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that they want.

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And also their children are sort of asked to financial

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need being forced to go and work in factories and

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things. So they're not taking up the class that have

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been passed down through generations. So I'm looking for NGOs

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and social enterprises that are trying to keep those communities,

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you know, thriving and keep those age old crafts going.

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So what I look for is looking at the collections

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that they have. I sort of look for timeless pieces,

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classic pieces that I know have longevity. I'm a very

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versatile, they're multifunctional and they're wearable.

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So, you know, you can buy something from India and

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you might love it. But sometimes I don't know whether

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you've found this, if you've gone on holiday somewhere, so

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some exhausted location and you've bought something and you can

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totally see yourself in it while you're over there. And

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then you come back and you think, Oh my God,

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I can't wear that. You know? So I've learned that

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over the, you know, the years that I've been in

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business now, I really look at my product range with

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more of a keen eye on, is it wearable here?

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You know, will somebody wear it? You know, I tried

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to go for wardrobe, staples that, you know, again have

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longevity that are very versatile with existing wardrobes that people

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would wear over here, you know, outfits that people wear

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over here.

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And I look for products that have a story. So

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all the collections that I have either have things like

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canvas searching, which is like an age old arts, the

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hand died, you know, so we've got a range which

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is the STG may range. And that's based on Japanese

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Tye dye, which was also taken over to India. So,

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you know, I look at those and I think, you

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know, they've got a beautiful story to them and they're

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so, you know, well-made, they're high quality as well, because

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I think, you know, a lot of people, they have

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this misconception, maybe it was true years ago, but they

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have this misconception that in Asia, you don't get quality,

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but these days you do, because they've really upped their

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game over there.

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They've, you know, expanded globally as a country. And they've

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really sort of increased their quality of stitching and sort

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of craft as well for the Western market. So essentially

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on true when they say, you know, if you buy

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something from India that is, you know, bad quality, of

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course you'd get that market, but you know, there's so

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many beautiful things out there.

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Yeah. And that's, yeah, I've had a good look at

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your range and it is beautiful. I particularly like the

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upcycling products. So the scars and the necklaces, I just

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beautiful. I like to say you could see that you

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could totally just wear them with your everyday outfit.

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Yeah, that's right. You know, a lot of the pieces

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I have, I see them as outfit elevators, so you

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could work, you know, really simple sort of weekend casual

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jeans, t-shirt sort of combination, but just throw a really

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beautiful scarf with it. And it really elevates that outfit

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into something else. So, you know, it's just investing sort

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of in that one piece, you know, which really sort

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of, you know, you're gonna treasure for so many years

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to come and because that ups cycles, you know, or

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they're made from everything's natural. So a lot of my

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stuff is silk. So it's all biodegradable as well. There's

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no like polyester or anything in there, you know?

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So yeah, that's, that's what I've tried to do is

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make these really versatile wardrobe stables

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And it's, yeah. It's really obvious that you've got a

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really keen eye and you know exactly what you're looking

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for as well, which I think is great, especially when

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you're sourcing products. Yeah. I guess it's good to know

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exactly what it is you're looking for. So that if

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something doesn't meet your criteria, you sort of know, I

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guess you could spend a long time on selecting products.

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Cause yeah, I mean, there's a lot of research involved

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in it, which can go from three to six months.

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I mean, a couple of years I saw a homeware

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range. I thought let's try home ware. So I went

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all the way to Roger Stan and a lot of

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the artisans that I work with, they're all in remote

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communities. So basically I was in the middle of the

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tar desert with this NGO, which has been around for

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about 30 years or so. And they sort of make

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everything, you know, that's hand-woven so they hand weave these

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rugs, which originally were used by nomadic settlers there.

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And they're multifunctional. You can use them as rocks throws,

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blankets, picnic, blankets, you name it. So I really loved

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the work that they did and the impact that they

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have on the communities. And I know that when I

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traveled with them through the areas of just on anyone

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that, you know, met these people came up to us

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and they were like, yeah, they're really great. They tell

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us when there is a huge malaria outbreak. So they

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helped with vaccinations and, you know, they empower women there

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as well. A lot of village women, you know, there's

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a high rates of female deaths, child deaths. So, you

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know, abortions and things like that.

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So it's, you know, you know, in India you've still

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got these really sort of old fashioned, almost medieval type

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of, sort of thought processes. You know, so what they

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do is they sort of help the social inequality, gender

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inequality, they educate women, you know, against these things basically.

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And they help, you know, they help empower women to

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handloom as well because it's a male dominated industry and

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enables them to earn their own money and be independent

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as well, you know, so that they gained respect within

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their communities as well. And, and all that has it

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a positive effect on everything. So that was an amazing

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trip I had.

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And I actually lived with them for three days, which

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was amazing. Cause they cook. I mean, they're like chefs

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basically you have a meal with them and they're just

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amazing. And it was like visiting an old uncle really.

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Cause I took me around their family's houses and you

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know, they were incredibly proud, you know, that their products

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were going to go to England, you know, so it

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was good to actually see the weavers at work. You

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know, it's a very difficult, you know, trade it's learned

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from generations, from grandfathers to fathers, to sons, you know,

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and they have immense pride in what they do. So

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I love that. I can learn about these things.

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Yeah. And I love just how much you know about

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your products and where they come from and who's made

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them, I just think that's amazing story about behind the

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products and the people and the impact they're having. That's

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just fantastic.

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Yeah. I think it's, you know, I think to have,

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you know, you get a piece of textile or something

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and it's got all these beautiful designs on it. I

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love the, you know, I can sell a story as

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well, you know, and it's a story that has an

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impact, which I think is really important because I think

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lockdown has made us more mindful of things. We've not

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been able to go out and shop like we want

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to, we've had to make do, and probably meant the

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clothes that we have at home. We've probably cleared out

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our wardrobes and just reused or, you know, upcycled things.

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And I think it's really important to, you know, take

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this opportunity that even though, you know, Covid has been

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obviously a negative thing, it's, it has had a positive

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impact in the fact that I think we appreciate our

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clothes more than we did before.

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And I think that's what it's all about really, you

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know, it's, it's about using what you have and recycling,

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you know, buying good quality clothes that are an investment,

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you know, that will, you know, you'll treasure because they've

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got a beautiful story, you know, that you've made an

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impact. And I think that's, what's important is the consumer

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needs to know that they're the ones that make the

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change. You know, we can sell the products, but it's

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a consumer when they buy it, they know that they've

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made a change and that's how they can as a

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whole change the fashion industry in the way that they're

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working in terms of fast fashion, you know? Yeah.

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That's amazing. Thank you. So I've got a few follow

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up questions. I'm wondering where to go next. I think

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as you mentioned, lockdown and cave, it will go there

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if that's okay. Because I'm really curious as to wherever

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the situation, which is obviously been a global one has

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affected your business and your supply chain. Cause I'm, I

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would imagine that it's been harder to maybe get products

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and type of minutia. So what impacts has there been

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and what impact has there been on the communities you're

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working with as well? I'm really curious on that as

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well. Like all the artists and you work with, have

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they been impacted directly?

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Yeah. So take, for example, the upcycled range of necklaces

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and sorry, scarfs that I do a lot of the

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women that make the salary scar. So actually home-based, which

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has been brilliant. So they've not been impacted, you know,

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they've stayed at home and normally what they do is

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they get together certain times of the day and they

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all sit and sew together and they chat and, you

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know, just to have a good chin wag with each

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other. So what they've done, they've not done that, but

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they've just continued to selling our home. So even though,

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you know, the supply chain has slowed down that aspect

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of it, hasn't obviously with, COVID a lot of the

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other Rangers, you know, everybody sort of stopped buying basically.

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So we stopped by bringing in stock anyway. So it's

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just been selling what we have, you know, in March

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and the following months that happened. So I've personally have

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not been impacted that much, which has been a bit

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of a godsend actually. And the rest of the artists

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and chains they've been okay. You know, they're safe is

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basically what they're saying and because they all earn a

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sustainable wage, they're very lucky because they've obviously been able

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to fall back on, you know, the money that they

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have, whereas those in, you know, fast fashion, you know,

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for the brands that have stopped the orders, you've probably

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heard, you know, on the news and everything like the

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big brands, like H and M or Primark, you know,

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they literally canceled orders that had already been made.

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So garment workers weren't being paid. A lot of them

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obviously suffered from COVID because there was no social distancing

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and no health measures whatsoever. So, you know, I'd hate

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to think what happened to them basically. So, you know,

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luckily, you know, we've got a supply chain, which is

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very forward thinking and it's really helped the artisans stands

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out. So yeah.

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Yeah. It's, it's really fun. It's yeah. It's really nice

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to hear a positive story and hear that they haven't

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been overly impacted that's yeah, that's really good to hear.

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So speaking of sharing stories, Harjit this is the next

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place I'd like to go if that's okay with you.

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So I'm a co we're called in this, I forget

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the day, but it's September, you've been the Telegraph on

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Sunday. Gosh, I see. You've had a lot of press

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over the last couple of times, you know, I've been

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following you, I've seen you in the, in the press

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more than once. So yeah. Tell us about that. So

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how are you getting the press coverage? Is that, was

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that part of your marketing strategy to go out there

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and share your story? Yeah, I would just love to

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know all that you've done.

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Yeah. I think, I think the past couple of months

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have been very busy. I was featured in woman and

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home magazine, which was great. A journalist just put out

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a call basically and said they were looking for women

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who had, you know, sort of lift their dream in

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a way or had their dreams come true. And they

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sort of hinted that it would be around travel and

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everything. And I thought, well, yeah, that, that was my

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dream come true. So I just put myself forward for

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it because I think I've got really great images. The

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press look for really good images and a really good

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story around things. So I really went for it for

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that one. And luckily I was featured and then this

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Sunday, the Sunday is just that it's just gone.

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Actually I was featured in the Telegraph and that was

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a similar thing. It's I had that from a Twitter

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request, so people can search the hashtag journal requests and

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the, you know, the media put out a call for

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things on that hashtag, which is really great. You know,

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if you follow it every day and just look out

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for requests and see if they're relevant to you, you

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know, somethings you can just sort of, you know, have

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an angle around and you can make it relevant towards

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yourself, reply to them really quickly, you know, and just

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put yourself out to be helpful to journalists really.

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Cause that's what they're looking for. You know, they're looking

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for help in creating stories. So that's how it came

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about. And it was amazing actually the Telegraph feature because

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I had so many like personal emails from people saying

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I'm really inspired by what you did when you were

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in your forties when you did it. So I was,

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I was quite taken aback by it. So it's been

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brilliant because obviously customers have bought lots of things and

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you know, it just has a knock-on effects on everything,

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which is great, really positive effects on everything that you

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do. And I think price is one of those things

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that a lot of people don't actually follow through.

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You know, everyone sort of tends to concentrate on their

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social media and you spend hours and days, don't you

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basically, you know, on social media life just disappears when

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you're on the, but press is really important, you know?

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And it's just, I think time. Yeah. A lot of

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people don't have the time, especially if they're sort of,

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you know, working so low. So I would really say,

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you know, take some time out to try and get

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some press coverage, you know, and include that in like

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your, your plan for the next three months, you know,

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on a plan ahead as well. You've got Christmas coming,

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you know, lots of people will be looking for gift

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guides, you know, and Christmas gifts for people.

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You know, if you can put yourself out there and

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say, Hey, look, I've got this amazing gift. It's all

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wrapped up beautifully. It's all done. Basically. You know, someone

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can go online and just buy it. It's a really

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great way of, you know, sort of promoting yourself.

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Thank you. No, I think I definitely agree with you

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and I'll be honest. I've had PR it's on my

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to do list for years and haven't done a thing

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about it and I can definitely see the benefits, but

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yeah, it just, I dunno, like, I guess it seems

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quite daunting speaking to journalists and you also always worry

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whether you or your products actually has a story. So

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what were your, or you have any tips for people

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who are in that same mindset that I'm in of?

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Wow. What would I talk about? Yeah. I mean, I

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still feel that way now, you know, it's all these

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mind monkeys that Creek 10, isn't it. And they're just

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like, you're not good enough. You know, somebody else is

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better than you.

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And especially I think the social media, you know, you've

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got all these like sort of amazing pictures of people

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that look like they're doing well, you know, but it

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could be very different behind the scenes. You know, they've

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probably worked really, really hard to get where they want

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or it's just, you know, it's things are not exactly

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what they seem, which is what I'm saying. You know,

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it's, it's, I think you just have to look at

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how far you've come to sort of, you know, Pat

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yourself on the back and say, look, I've come this

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far now and people have been interested and you know,

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if you've been featured in a national magazine, then it's

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a really great thing.

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People are obviously interested in what you're doing and then

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your story. So it's, you know, try and not think

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about those mind monkeys and just say, look, this is

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the objective of what I'm going to do. I'm really

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going to put myself out there.

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Okay. Thank you. So you think it's really a case

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of being brave and putting yourself forwards and see what

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comes of it.

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Yeah, I think so. Yeah, definitely. You know, I think

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what's important is to have a community of women that

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are on your side. So I love Facebook groups, you

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know, they're so helpful. People eat, you know, help each

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other and you get so many tips in those as

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well. This is how, you know, everybody gets ahead. Basically.

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This is how we all start from zero and then

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actually start finding ourselves within our businesses because it's an

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evolving thing. Isn't it? I mean, my business, when I

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started, I look at it now, it sort of makes

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me you know, I think, Oh my God. You know,

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but now when I look at it, I think, ah,

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it's actually becoming something that, you know, I had a

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vision for, you know, actually see it like that.

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So yeah, definitely get help. I would say that, you

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know, there's lots of stuff on the internet, you know,

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you can become part of a lot of business groups

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where there's a lot of those supportive women that can

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give you tips. Obviously, if you can invest in a

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coach, actually I forgot to say actually when I first

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started, because I didn't have a clue and I was

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totally like, you know, zero knowledge about anything. I did

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find myself coach and she was part of a group

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of women who were sort of in the same boat.

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And that's how I sort of got started. Cause otherwise

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you don't know where you're going.

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It's just a, you know, if you just Google the

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hell out of everything, it's just a rabbit Warren full

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of information that you can't organize into something that is

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going to lead you in a focused. So it's important

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to do that. So yeah, if you're starting out and

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you have no clue, you know, find a good business

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coach, there's loads out there now, you know, there's absolutely

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loads and there's one that will resonate with you. I

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think finding a business coach and a group that resonates

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with you is really important.

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Absolutely. I mean, that was my experience as well. Yeah.

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You said so many things that it really resonates when

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I first started. Yeah. I found that Google was great,

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but there was almost too much on Google. You could

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go down so many holes. I spoken about this before

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and yeah. So this is why I'm kind of doing

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this podcast and create the online course just to help

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people who know they want to start selling products, but

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just don't know, you know, how's it go about it.

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So I will link through to my it resources in

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the show notes for anyone who wants to take a

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look and I may not be the right person for

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you, but I might be. So, you know, I think

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what you do

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Well though, is the fact that, you know, it's, you're

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very methodical in what you're writing. You know, you start

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from somebody not knowing anything about how to create a

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product, but they know they want to do it. So

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it's everything, it's all those questions afterwards that everybody has

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that you answer, you know, and that's the most important

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thing. So again, for everybody else as well, you know,

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whatever business they want to create, whether it's fashion or

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not, then, you know, finding a person as yourself to,

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you know, really focus, what they need to do is

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super important.

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Thank you. Thank you. And I should mention that a

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Harjit has gone through my course. I should mention that

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as well. Thank you. This isn't about me. This is

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about you. And as I say, I might, I might

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be the right person for someone that's in. I might

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not, I won't be offended if not. And the other

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thing you said that really resonated was about finding a

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network or community. Cause I completely agree. It's really tough

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to do this on your own. And I find myself

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saying this more and more to people now just find

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some people who are doing something similar to you, even

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if it's not exactly the same business, even if that

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starts up a completely different business. But having someone who

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knows about that you're wearing, I think is really helpful

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because as we talked about at the beginning, unless you've,

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you know, your families and entrepreneurial, you might be the

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first person in your circle to do something like this.

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And that can feel really lonely and you need someone

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else who knows what you're going through. Definitely. And I

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also liked what you said about when you looked back

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on your business. And so you said such a lot

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of good things I'm having to recap you were talking

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about when you look back at how your business was

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at the beginning, compared to how it is now. And

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I would just like to say that I think it's

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fantastic that you just got started. And even if you

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look back now, I think all of those and quite

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the business I wanted, as you said, now you have

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that business. So yeah, I think it's a really good

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message to just get started. And it doesn't matter if

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things aren't right, you can change, you can evolve, but

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if you don't get started, you're never going to get

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where it ever is.

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You want to get to,

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Yeah, I think a lot of people, you know, that's

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why they say a lot of people fail is at

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the beginning, you know, because they just don't really take

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off, you know, or the so many, it's such a,

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I think having a business it's such a brave thing

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to do, I think, you know, for everybody, because it's

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a very risky thing to do. You're giving up secure

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incomes and you know, so I think to actually take

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that step forward is brilliant. And I think the reason

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why every business evolves is because finding your customer, your

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right customer, the right audience to sell to is the

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most important thing, you know?

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So my audience has changed over the years. You know,

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I've gone more to like a luxury end and, you

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know, once I've realized who my customer is, then everything

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around that is so much easier because you can talk

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to your customer in a certain way that resonates with

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them. Otherwise you're just, you know, selling to everybody. You'll

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just, it's just not going to happen really. And being

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ethical as well. You know, my customer is someone who

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is interested in sort of sustainable fashion, handcrafted fashion, you

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know, fashion know that they might have seen when they've

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traveled and they love it.

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You know, and they've seen something like now it's actually

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wearable over here. So a lot of, you know, my

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customers tend to be either working for like ethical businesses

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or, you know, organizations. So yeah, I think finding your

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customer and talking to your customer in the right way

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is really important.

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That's really good advice. Thank you. Because I think, yeah,

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knowing who you're talking, cause if, what did I say

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that if you're talking to everybody you're talking to nobody,

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I'm sure that's a real saying I haven't made up.

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Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's also sort of just

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worth highlighting you. You've mentioned that your business has been

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going for nearly seven years. And when we were speaking

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for a little bit before the call, you were saying,

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you know, things have really taken off in the last

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12 to 18 months. And I think that's also an

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important thing to share because coming back to things, being

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tough at the beginning, I sometimes think that if people

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don't see success right away, it's easy to get disheartened.

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I mean, I've certainly been disheartened at points as well,

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but the more of these interviews I do and the

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more people I speak to, some people absolutely, you know,

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their business takes off in the first year and they're

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doing really well, but others, it's more of like a

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slow, gradual build up.

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And it, you know, it might take three years, might

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take five years, but everybody that I'm, I've spoke to

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how, you know, has a business that they're proud of

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and it's achieving what they wanted it to and everyone's

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got their in their own timescale. So I just think

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it's worth sharing that highlight in that as well.

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Yeah. But yeah, I think it's important because we all

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sort of, you know, compare ourselves to others who might

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be sort of flying basically in their businesses. And then

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you put a time limit on yourself, which is not

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reasonable because it also depends on what sort of niche

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you're in as well. You know, so I mean, sustainable

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fashion is growing, you know, ethical fashion is growing and

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people are more mindful of it. I think it's more

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of a slow gain, you know, not that, you know,

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ethical fashion businesses out there aren't doing well, but you

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know, if you're in a real niche niche of things,

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you know, it's your time limit is totally, your journey

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is totally different to somebody else's, you know, but as

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long as you keep going and keep doing those consistent

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things that keep going, you know, and not comparing yourself

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to other people, cause that's unrealistic, really, we all do

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it.

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I still do it subconsciously. I try not to do

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it, but you know, you do sit there and you

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think, Oh God, you know, when am I going to

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make a million? You know? But again, you know, I

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don't want to make a million, to be honest. I,

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you know, I think my business is different in the

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fact that, you know, it's, it's a purpose. It's a

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part of me, you know, and going back to the

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travel, it's, you know, backpacking around Southeast Asia, my backpack

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taught me, you know, a huge lesson in terms of,

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you know, I used to buy fast fashion and just

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living in the clothes that I had at the time,

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because I didn't buy it anymore for that whole year.

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I just existed in those. And I thought to myself,

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I don't need anything else. I don't need any more

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than I need, you know, and I don't miss it.

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So it taught me a lot in that way and

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all the experiences of seeing poverty and sort of political

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upheavals and the struggles that people had. And in developing

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countries that I visited, you know, really taught me many,

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many a lesson. So my business is a purpose to

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me. You know, I, my purpose is also to create

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awareness of sustainable fashion and ethical fashion so that, you

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know, myself and lots of other similar businesses and consumers,

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because consumers, the most important person here changes the industry,

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the fast fashion industry, so that they make the changes,

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they pay their gone workers, you know, more than a

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living wage, you know, and if we have to pay

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a couple of pounds more for a t-shirt and so

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bit, because as a nation, we are, you know, more

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well off than they are.

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And, you know, people deserve respect for what they make,

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just like they do over here. So in terms of

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like sort of social equality and gender equality, I think

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it's really important, you know? Yeah.

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And I also think it's great that you've defined what

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success means to you as well. And that it's not

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just all about sort of the financial side that were

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other, you know, you have other goals as well. I

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think that's,

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You know, that's when you want to feel fulfilled in

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your life, you know, chasing money will never always bring

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you happiness, you know, at the end of the day

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you run a business. So yeah, we should, you know,

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make money so that you can feed your family and

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pay your mortgage and do everything that everybody else does.

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So, you know, that's fine, but you know, having a

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creative business and having a purpose to the business, you

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know, that brings you joy and happiness and also enables

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you to travel as well. You know, once a year

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when we could, you know, to source things. I mean,

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it's like my best job, you know, what else could

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I ever want in life?

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That's fantastic. Thank you. Okay. So I want to be

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respectful of your time, but I do have one final

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question for you before we finish. And I know you

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shared a lot with us. This might be a hard

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one, but what is your number one piece of advice

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for anyone else wanting to start a products business, whether

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that's in sustainable fashion or anything at all?

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Oh gosh. I would say if you're just starting off,

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get help, because I think from that, you know, you

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get, it really helps you on your journey to starting

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and starting is the most difficult thing, you know, having

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help from mentors and other business owners that are either

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in your field or not is totally invaluable. You know?

Speaker:

So I would say get help definitely. And join lots

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of Facebook groups and support groups because you know, they

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can help you, you know, down the path that you

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need really to, you eitherknow, make a good go of

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your business.

Speaker:

That's fantastic advice. Thank you. And yeah. Yeah, I agree.

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And you absolutely don't necessarily need to pay for help

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either, if that's something that, you know, in a position

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to do, as you say, there are plenty of Facebook

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groups, forums, possibly even local groups to wherever you are

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that you know, where you can go along and speak

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to people and, and get loads of benefits as well.

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Yeah, definitely. You know, a lot of stuff I've done,

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I've done free, you know, things like PR you don't

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really have to go out and spend thousands of pounds

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on a PR company. You can do it for free.

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Maybe it comes to a stage way or quite successful.

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And you want to hand it over to somebody like

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a PR company that's different, but if you're starting, you

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know, you can do a lot of what they call

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low hanging fruit, which is, you know, sort of actions

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that get you free or get you notice, you know,

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get you free sort of coverage. So I think, you

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know, it's, there's so many things that, you know, you

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can do that don't cost money.

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That's great advice. Thank you. And yeah. And I completely

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agree of you definitely don't need to do it alone.

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And so yeah, if you're listening and you know, you're,

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you're just getting started. Don't ever feel that you need

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to do it alone because there were many people out

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there that can help and support you. Yeah. Well, thank

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you so much for your time today Harjit. Thank you

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so much for everything that you've shared. So I'm going

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to link over in the show notes to the Jewelled

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Buddha as a website and all your social media channels.

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People can go over and take a look at your

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products. It's definitely worth doing. They're beautiful. And that's willing

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to your Telegraph article as well as people who can

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go and read a bit more about you. And is

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there anything I've missed? Is there anywhere else you'd want

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people to go and look at or anything else you

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wanted to add before we finish?

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No, I think that's it. And, and anybody out there

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with, you know, starting a business. Good luck.

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Thank you so much.

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Thank you for having me Vicki it's been brilliant things

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and he welcome.

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We hope you enjoy listening to Harjit's story, or you

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found it interesting. And that was always, you found a

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few things that you could actually take away from it.

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I would love to know what you think. You can

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email me vicki@tinychipmunk.com. You can find me on Instagram VickiHarjit

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Weinberg product creation, or you can rate and review this

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podcast episode. Please remember as well to go and take

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a look at Harjit's site and look at the beautiful

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items that she's selling. I really do appreciate anyone who

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takes their time to come on this podcast and share

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their story with us. So it'd be fantastic if you

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can go over and also have a look at what

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she's doing. And one of the subjects, if you also

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have a small products business, wherever you are six months

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in or six years in, and you'd like to be

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part of the show, I would absolutely love to have

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you.

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So just get in touch with me. It's vicki@tinychipmunk.com and

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we can have a chat and see if you're a

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good fit. Never worry. I'm not looking for people who

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have the certainly have, you know, really well-established businesses. I

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think it's also really inspiring to speak to people who

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are just starting out. So if that's you, I would

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love to hear from you and that's it for today.

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Enjoy the rest of your day, enjoy your week. And

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I will speak to you again soon.